The Michigan Notable Books for 2019 were recently released and I was thrilled to see Beautiful Music among this year's selections. It's a great honor just to have the book chosen because so many books are published every year and great (and helpful) to get noticed. Media outlets all over the state write and talk about the winning books. It's also fun to be on a list with such a diverse selection of excellent books, everything from fiction, non-fiction, cookbooks, children's books, YA, poetry, histories, biographies and more. All of them either written by Michiganians, set in the state, or dealing with Michigan subject matter. My story collection The Lost Tiki Palaces of Detroit was a Michigan Notable Book in 2010. Bonus: On the official press release, fellow Ferndale author Josh Malerman and I both got a shout-out for our previous books that have been made into films. The Leisure Seeker for me and the phenomenally successful Netflix film Bird Box for Josh. Pretty damn cool.
Got some wonderful news recently. The Great Lakes Independent Booksellers Association (GLIBA), selected Beautiful Music as the Adult Fiction award winner of their "Great Lakes Great Reads" program, an annual program to recognize excellence in writing for books about or written by authors with ties to the Great Lakes region. I'm in some good company. Past winners include Bonnie Jo Campbell and David Maraness. The awards ceremony was held in Minneapolis on October 3rd, at the GLIBA's annual Heartland Fall Forum. The event was MC'd by Nickolas Butler, author of Shotgun Lovesongs. I met some cool folks like Nickolas and Chloe Benjamin, and had a great time, as you can tell by the photo. Dork!
New reviews and Interviews in the Santa barbara independent, Lansing city pulse & midwestern Gothic.
Just when I thought things were slowing down with Beautiful Music, a bunch of new items popped up on the Google. A couple of new reviews appeared in the Santa Barbara Independent and Lansing City Pulse, along with a long interview that I had forgotten I'd done with a very cool literary journal called Midwestern Gothic. It's all here. Have a gander if you feel like it.
Oprah.com has chosen Beautiful Music for the Summer Book Guide.
Novelist Michael Ferro reviews Beautiful Music in the Michigan Quarterly Review online.
I spoke to Cynthia Canty at Michigan Public Radio not long ago and the interview was recently posted. I talked to her about how the book was inspired by the music of 1970s Detroit, our iconic radio stations and the film Almost Famous. You can find the interview here.
Spoke to T Heizel at WCBN-FM in Ann Arbor recently for her "Living Writers" show. We talked for an hour about music, Detroit, my long-surpressed desire to be a DJ, Fleetwood Mac, the MC5 (clean version), writing craft, shaping autobiography into fiction and lots of other stuff. It was great fun. You can find it right here.
The Detroit Free Press was kind enough to do a profile on me. Writer Ellen Piligian came to my house and we talked for a long while, about all sorts of things, Beautiful Music, The Leisure Seeker, cats, my nerdy childhood, Italy, writing, my long-term advertising job, making art in Detroit, and the good and the weird of having someone make a movie of your book. The whole thing is right here. The surprise came when me and my colossal noggin ended up on the cover of the culture section. It took me aback: "Gah! Giant head!"
Bill Morris of The Millions wrote a fascinating essay on the seemingly unkillable appeal of the 1970s in current books and culture, called "The Cockroach Decade." I was thrilled when he devoted part of his essay to Beautiful Music. Here's an excerpt:
Then there are writers and artists who journey back in time, ransack their memories of the ’70s, and embellish them to create a sort of time-lapse portrait. Michael Zadoorian’s fourth book, the terrific Beautiful Music, is a semi-autobiographical coming-of-age story that is usually the stuff of first novels. A nerdy white teenager named Danny Yzemski is living with his unhinged widow mom in northwest Detroit in aftermath of the 1967 riot (or rebellion, depending on your political persuasion). It’s 1974 and Detroit has just elected its first black mayor, Coleman Young, and racism and the related tensions on the city streets and in the hallways of Redford High School are prompting many white families to pack up and get out of town. Danny’s salvation is his discovery of rock ’n’ roll, which helps him survive tough times in a tough town.
I called Zadoorian at his home in Detroit and asked him why he revisited the ’70s four decades after his 1975 graduation from Redford High. “I don’t know what drew me to write a coming-of-age story when I was in my late fifties,” he replied. “Maybe it’s a matter of trying to understand your path, this place, the way life was back then, including the toxic things like racism, anger, fear, white people moving out. There’s something fascinating about the ’70s, especially to people who weren’t alive then. Things were so outrageous and ugly that there was an audacity and a beauty to it. It was a time of ferment when the world went kind of crazy. It’s interesting to find those moments in time when things shift.”
Btw, Bill Morris is also a fabulous novelist who happens to be from Detroit. Check out his most recent novel, Motor City Burning.
My interview with Ann Delisi on her Essential Music show is posted here. It's a little longer than the one that aired. (Bonus content!)
Ann was also kind enough to ask me for my Essential Songs, so I gave her a list of my Essential Songs About Growing Up. It was really a thrill hearing her play them on the air. She also read what I had written about each of the songs. So fun. It was like being DJ by proxy. Her shows are archived here. The show with the interview and songs is Sunday, May 6, 2018. My segment is the second half of the two hour show.